Disc Players

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Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 14, 2022
hfnvintageThis late-'80s flagship CD player boasted no shortage of metal for your money while offering 4x oversampling to boot. But with few to be found, is it worth tracking down?

The law of diminishing returns was perhaps never more evident than when the CD player arrived in the early '80s. As more machines came to market in the years that followed, all but the crudest would offer a level of perfection unthinkable to the majority of audiophiles in the 1970s.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 09, 2022
hfncommendedThe first SACD player from French audio artisans, Kalista, is also this spin-off brand's most comprehensive digital hub to date, with wired/wireless network streaming

Having emerged from French manufacturer Métronome Technologie with its inaugural model in 2003 – think Citroën spawning DS, or Seat's Cupra line – Kalista now has a growing range of DreamPlay products. This includes the £21,000 Kalista STREAM – described as 'The only streamer on the market that combines perfect functionality with exceptional looks' – and a turntable, the £44,000 Twenty-Twenty.

Martin Colloms  |  Jun 03, 2022
hfnvintageAt last, Krell Digital presents its CD player system, the MD-1 transport plus SBP-64X, and the less costly SBP-16X DAC. Martin Colloms listens

Krell has determined that digital audio should form part of its future, and has created a separately financed division called Krell Digital Inc. The MD-1 digital transport was shown last year together with the SBP-64X processor/decoder – an amazing combination at a price which left the industry breathless, being around £15,000 the pair.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 17, 2022
hfncommendedRemember when a CD player was just, well, a CD player? No DAC input, streaming or other digital goodies. Electrocompaniet does – say 'hello' to an old-school disc spinner

By coincidence, I started writing this review of Electrocompaniet's EMC 1 MKV CD player on October 21, which serious film nerds will know is 'Back To The Future Day', the date, in 1955, that intrepid time traveller Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) arrives in the smash-hit sci-fi movie. Marty has bent the spacetime continuum to head back 30 years, and I had a similar feeling with this silver disc spinner, albeit by a decade or so less and without aid from a DeLorean.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 10, 2022
hfncommendedThe latest all-in-one compact Class D streaming system from the German company features an enhanced network audio platform – but that's only the start of its appeal

As the model designation suggests, this isn't the first all-in-one network audio system from German high-end company AVM. Replacing its existing Inspiration CS 2.2 model, the new Inspiration CS 2.3, selling for £5250 in black or silver finishes, with a chrome 'Cellini' finish available as a somewhat glitzy extra-cost option, is based around the company's latest streaming platform.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 21, 2021
hfnvintageThis machine marked a step-change in Sony's assault on the early CD player market as the company ditched its own DAC in favour of a third-party solution. How will it sound?

The components in Sony's ES series represented what the company regarded as the most advanced designs available. They were top of the range, and aimed at those who were prepared to pay a little extra to obtain the best possible performance.

John Atkinson  |  Nov 23, 2021  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1985
hfnvintageJohn Atkinson reviews a high-end CD player from a specialist Swiss brand

Audiophiles who have spent large sums of money on LP playing equipment, such as myself, find themselves coming up with a number of excuses when presented with the thorny problem of reconciling the increasingly general acceptance of CD with their own love for vinyl.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 16, 2021
hfnvintageIt may have been based on a machine from Dutch giant Philips but this was the first CD player from a specialist high-end British manufacturer. How will it sound today?

Compact Disc enjoyed a halo of glamour in its early years that the more established formats had lost. Talk of laser beams and digital electronics, those holographic rainbows on the disc surface – not to mention all the smart new hardware – brought an interest in top quality listening to a whole new demographic.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 27, 2021
hfncommendedWell, one thing's for sure: the new SACD/CD player/DAC from McIntosh looks quite unlike any other machine of its kind. So, does the sound live up to the unique style?

Take a quick look at the £4995 McIntosh MCD85, and you'd probably think it was another in the seemingly endless line of amplifier variations emerging from the Binghamton factory in upstate New York. In fact, the first sign that this isn't actually a power amp is the weight. Thanks to their hefty transformers and solidity of build, the company's powerhouses tend to be back-achingly heavy, and arrive on pallets – the new MA1200 integrated amp, for example, weighs in at a shade under 49kg, and the MC901 monoblock is getting on for twice that. By contrast, the MCD85 is a manageable 12.5kg boxed, and a positively featherweight 9.3kg in the buff.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 24, 2021
hfnvintageThis second-generation 16-bit machine hit the sweet spot for many when it came to sheer value for money, but does it make a bargain vintage buy? It's time to find out...

Has the 'perfect' CD player ever existed? While one model may boast the best transport, another the best DAC and yet another the most perfectly resolved ergonomics, so far I've yet to find all of these elements present in one machine. Sharp's DX-411H

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 10, 2021
hfncommendedWhat is the connection between this Slovakian-built CD player/DAC and global turntable giant Pro-Ject, and does its triode tube output stage give it an edge?

In the music business, an eight-year wait between albums might give fans cause for concern and raise fears of 'issues' behind the scenes. But we have no such worries about the similar gap betwewen Canor's latest CD player and its predecessor – it's all par for the course for this Slovakian marque. Since arriving in 1995 with the TP101 amplifier (under the brand name Edgar), this self-proclaimed tube specialist has developed a modest catalogue, always at its own pace and with little apparent attention paid to current hi-fi 'trends'. So the promise of the CD 2.10 is firmly rooted in physical CD playback, and a sound informed by Canor's love of tubes, a well-regarded DAC and its detailed attention to build and finish.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 15, 2021
hfnvintageIt was the Dutch company's first ever portable CD player and one of the first players from Philips to use a 16-bit chip. But how does this milestone machine sound today?

While Philips' dominance of the market for full-sized CD players in the early days of the format has been well documented in these pages, little mention has been made of its activities in the field of CD portables. Despite an obvious flair for innovation and creativity, the company is not especially known for producing miniatures – that crown belongs to the Japanese, and Sony in particular.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 01, 2021
hfnvintageWe hear a midi-sized multi-CD player from 1987 boasting a digital filter on board, but does multi-play convenience mean there's a penalty to pay in terms of sound?

The word 'autochanger' strikes fear into the hearts of LP listeners, bringing thoughts of clanking levers, heavyweight arms and stacks of records slamming on top of each other. The situation is more favourable when it comes to CD. Most players handle discs mechanically anyway, and so only a relatively straightforward extension to the mechanism is needed to allow more than one disc to be loaded at a time.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 25, 2021
hfnoutstandingWithout any sense of irony, the man most identified with rival brand Marantz for 40 years is posthumously recognised for his work in 'tweaking' Rotel's budget CD and amp

Synchronicity is a strange thing: for whatever reason of scheduling, I found myself embarking on this review a year to the day since the passing of audio legend Ken Ishiwata. The anniversary was marked by his daughter with a YouTube video of some joyously retro Latin music performed by an all-Japanese vocal group. 'Instead of making this a very sad day,' she wrote, 'we would like to share one of his favourite songs with you. He used to play this all the time, it brings back lovely memories and a smile upon our faces'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 08, 2021
hfnoutstandingTrickledown engineering wins hands down as the core technology behind Marantz's 12 series is buffed to a new polish, gaining network compatibility at an even lower price

The expression 'hot on the heels' is one thing, but to launch two sets of products seemingly offering similar features at much the same price might be seen as inviting customer confusion. Yes, that's just what Marantz has done, with the SA-12SE/PM-12SE SACD player and amplifier [HFN Nov '20] followed within weeks by the arrival of the 30 Series models – yes, an SACD player and amplifier. Add in the fact that both ranges draw heavily on previous models – to put it charitably – and one might well wonder what exactly is going on.

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